MEDIA STOCKS CAUGHT IN MARKET SLIDE
Tuesday's overall stock-market plunge was reflected among media listings, with Disney taking the heaviest hit, dropping 5.72 percent to $33.10. Time Warner also was clobbered, dropping 4.22 percent. Other media companies averaged drops of around 3.5 percent, somewhat less than the 4.3 percent average registered by the Dow. In midday trading today (Wednesday), the stocks remained at about their closing prices on Tuesday. Producers of TV news shows were weighing the importance of Tuesday's sell-off at about the time that the Dow dropped almost 200 points at 3:00 p.m. On CBS's Public Eye website, a video of the "lineup meeting" at which producers decide the order in which stories are presented, shows executive producer Rome Hartman walking in and calling for the stock market story to be carried as the lead item. Public Eye editor Brian Montopoli commented that the video "offers a unique insight into how the Evening News comes together."
MOVIE ACADEMY YANKS OSCAR CLIPS FROM YOUTUBE
Favorite highlights of Sunday night's Oscar telecast posted on YouTube by viewers were removed Tuesday and replaced with a message reading, "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences," Daily Variety observed today (Wednesday). Academy executive administrator Ric Robertson told the trade publication that the organization had asked YouTube to remove the clips "to help manage the value of our telecast and our brand." Meanwhile film exhibitors are grumbling about Jerry Seinfeld's quips during the telecast about the high prices at theater concession stands. ("You rip us off on overpriced crap.") In a message to L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke, Gene Oliver, a theater owner in Pryor, OK, wrote, "My theater works on a profit margin of 8-10 percent and we work very hard to keep movies available to the public. The only reason that theaters MUST charge the prices for concessions is to survive. Without concessions there would be NO venues for the exhibition of film. Without popcorn there would be no industry, it is that simple."
DREAMWORKS ANIMATION'S PROFITS FLUSHED AWAY
For DreamWorks Animation, last year's Flushed Away unfortunately lived up to its title, draining away millions of dollars from the company's coffers. The film, a joint production with British animators Aardman Studios, reportedly cost more than $140 million to produce and wound up grossing only $64 million domestically. As a result DreamWorks Animation wrote down $109 million on the film for the fourth quarter and reported a $21.3-million loss. That compared with a $63.2-million profit during the comparable quarter a year ago.
SONY DEVICE TO COMPETE WITH APPLE TV
One day after Apple announced that it would have to delay the introduction of Apple TV -- a device that allows videos stored on a home computer to be viewed on a TV monitor -- Sony said that it plans to introduce a similar unit, Bravia Internet Video Link, in July. Like Apple's, Sony's device carries a suggested retail price of $300. In a statement, Randy Waynick, senior vice president of the Home Products Division at Sony Electronics, said: "Internet video popularity has reached an all-time high, but until now there was no easy way to bring it into the living room. The Bravia Internet Video Link seamlessly streams Internet video content to your TV the way it's intended -- free of any additional charge." It was not clear whether the unit will function only with Sony TV sets or whether it can also be used in conjunction with other manufacturers'.
POTTER STAR WINS PRAISE IN NAKED ROLE
In a calculated effort to escape typecasting, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has debuted in a revival of Peter Shaffer's Equus in London, a role that calls for him to appear on stage naked, simulate sex, and smoke. In an interview with the Associated Press, Radcliffe said that he had taken the role in order "to shake up people's perception of me." The wire service commented: "On those grounds, the play is already a success." Parents, religious and anti-smoking groups in the U.K. have expressed outrage over Radcliffe's decision. Reviews of the play itself were mixed, with many critics calling it dated. But most critics gave Radcliffe's performance high marks. Charles Spencer, in today's (Wednesday) Daily Telegraph, remarked that the young actor "brilliantly succeeds in throwing off the mantle of Harry Potter, announcing himself as a thrilling stage actor of unexpected range and depth." Wrote Michael Billington in The Guardian: "Forget all the prurient press speculation about Harry Potter's private parts. ... The revelation in this revival is that Daniel Radcliffe really can act."
BABEL CREATORS PUBLICLY BABBLE OVER CREDITS
A public feud has broken out between the Mexican movie making team of director Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga in the wake of the success of their latest film, Babel. As reported Tuesday by the Associated Press, Iñárritu, joined by actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Adriana Barraza and Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, said in a letter to Arriaga published in the Mexican magazine Chilanga, "It's a shame that in your unjustified obsession to claim sole responsibility for the film, you seem not to recognize that movies are an art of deep collaboration." Asked about the letter during a radio interview, Arriaga complained that Iñárritu was stealing credit for the movie by listing himself in the credits as the movie's creator.